Maj Henry Ball Holmes

Maj Henry Ball Holmes

Death 27 Nov 1915 (aged 43)
Burial Buncrana, County Donegal, Ireland
Memorial ID 25823784 · View Source
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He was a Major in the British Army serving with the Royal Irish Fisiliers. He served in the Boer War and survived the Battle of Nicholson's Nek, Ladysmith, South Africa when the British were overrun by the Boers..
He died of wounds received during the Battle of Arras in France whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion during the 1st World War.
His memorial stone says:-
"Sacred to the memory of Major Henry Ball HOLMES, The Royal Irish Fusiliers, who died at Ludden Camp of wounds received in action in the Battle of Arras. Erected by his brothers and sisters."

Major Henry Ball Holmes was born in Hong Kong on the 23rd July 1872. His father was a solicitor and his mother was a doctor and was one of the first western women to practice medicine on the island.

Henry was educated at Bloxham School near Banbury in Oxfordshire, between 1885 and 1887. He was an outstanding sportsman, representing the school at Rugby, Cricket, Tennis and Athletics. In his final year in the 1st XV " he scored a record breaking 33 tries playing at outside three quarter, and had a furious and fearsome turn of pace" (Bloxhamist 1888). He was also a mean fast bowler and took over 40 wickets in 1887, including 5 against Eton.

On leaving Bloxham he went to the Royal Military College in Oxford. He was gazetted as 2nd Lt to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, from the militia on the 2nd June 1894. He progressed quickly through the ranks, becoming a Lieutenant on 22nd May 1897, Captain on the 12th March 1902 and then Major on the 14th March 1904.

Henry served in the South African War from 1899 to 1902, during which time he was very severely wounded on two occasions. During his time in South Africa he took part in operations in Natal in 1899, Lombard Kop and the Transvaal in 1900, Orange River in 1901, Kwa Zulu Natal in 1902 and numerous operations in the borders of Zululand in the period 1902-1903. Between 17th May and 1st September 1901, he was the officer commanding the Machadadorp Rest Camp. He was awarded the Queens medal with three clasps and the Kings medal with two. He was also Mentioned In Despatches twice during his time in South Africa.

The 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers marched from their barracks at Winchester on 19th December 1914 to the docks at Southampton where they boarded the SS City of Benares. The following day they landed at Le Harve. Major Holmes took part in numerous engagements with the Battalion until 20th April 1915 when he was shot through the face by a sniper whilst the Battalion were located at Bellewarde Farm, during the second battle of Ypres. He was carried to an aid station, and was then transferred to Luddon Camp, Buncrana where he died of septic blood poisoning of the brain. He was later buried at Lower Fahan churchyard in County Donegal and a memorial was erected to him, by the regiment. A fellow officer wrote about him " All the regiment past and present mourn with you; he was a perfect gentleman, a gallant soldier and a dear friend to all."

He was mentioned in Field Marshall Sir John French's despatch published in the London Gazette on the 1st January 1916.

Henry married Violet Mable Ryles of The Hermitage, Stevenage on the 1st July 1914 at Totnes, Devon. Violet was the daughter of the then late Henry Wingfield Fingis of Dublin. The couple had one son who was still born, posthumously, on the 28th December 1915.

Medal Entitlement: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal



  • Created by: bob dennis
  • Added: 7 Apr 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 25823784
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Maj Henry Ball Holmes (23 Jul 1872–27 Nov 1915), Find A Grave Memorial no. 25823784, citing Christ Church Cemetery, Buncrana, County Donegal, Ireland ; Maintained by bob dennis (contributor 46942204) .